I am tired. Most days, it is not from weeding — not from the same root cause as the sensation at the back of my legs, when I climb the stairs at the end of a too-long session outside. It is deeper, and simply from being in the world, a landscape of invasive, impossible headlines.
The garden is where I go to sort it out, whatever “it” has been along the way, during the last four decades. The garden has always been there, the Dorothy Boyd to my Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” Thank you, many times over.
I was reminded last week by a different Margaret to go to the bookshelf, too — and specifically to stories of loss and death, to understand how the world works. That’s something we could all use extra help with right now, I suspect.
USDA hardiness zones away, in Nashville, suggested that reading books about loss can “remind us that we belong to a species capable of carrying on when we think we can’t carry on any longer.”
John Burroughs into my life. Someone listening responded by describing the revered naturalist and essayist, the author of 27 books, who spent his later summers in a house in the Western Catskills that he called Woodchuck Lodge (now a National Historic Landmark).
Mr. Burroughs wore a coat made from woodchuck pelts. Apparently he didn’t much like Marmota monax, or groundhogs, either.
But in every creature, he looked for knowledge and found meaning. “If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature,” he wrote in 1908, in “Leaf and Tendril.” “And the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.”